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Wood pellets

Wood pellets are a form of fuel made of wood shavings, bark, sawdust and chips held together by compression or the addition of a binder. They have a low moisture content and are easily transported over long distances.

Wood pellets

Wood pellets are a small but important market for the Canadian forest industry. Most of those pellets are produced from industrial residues collected from sawmills and wood manufacturing industries. Other sources of biomass for wood pellet production are timber harvest residues.

A small portion of the total wood pellets produced is used in Canada for residential heating and power generation (about 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes). The much greater portion of this fuel is exported around the world.

Current Canadian wood pellet exports

In 2012, Canada exported 1,369,000 tonnes of wood pellets, valued at $208 million. About 84% of that amount went to countries in the European Union, with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands being the largest importers (using the fuel for electricity generation).

Outside the European Union, 14 other countries imported Canadian wood pellets in 2012. The largest importers of that group were Japan, the United States and South Korea.

Canadian wood pellet exports, 2012

Diagram of a world map showing Canadian wood pellet exports, 2012

Larger image [92 kb GIF]

Long description (includes data table)
This table shows Canadian wood pellet exports in 2012 to the USA, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and the rest of the world, including a total of Canadian exports.
Country Tonnes exported
Switzerland 21,209
Denmark 11,464
Germany 2,000
Belguim 5,800
United Kingdom 794,379
Netherlands 253,481
Italy 85,057
Japan 105,640
South Korea 2,084
USA 86,665
Rest of world 1,217
Total Canadian exports 1,369,000


Wood pellet demand expected to be strong in the EU

  • In the wood pellet export market to the European Union, Canada competes mainly with Russia and the United States. Canada was the top source of wood pellet imports by the European Union in 2010 and 2011, but fell to second place (behind the United States) in 2012.
  • Demand for wood pellets in the European Union is expected to grow over the next 10 years, as member states work towards meeting the Europe 2020 targets for climate change and energy.

European Union imports of wood pellets from Canada, Russia and the U.S.

Bar chart showing European Union imports of wood pellets from Canada, Russia and the U.S.

Larger image [16 kb GIF]

Long description (includes data table)
This table shows pellet imports from Canada, Russia, the Unites States and the rest of the world between 2009 and 2012.
  2009 2010 2011 2012
Canada 520,220 983,065 1,160,199 1,346,237
Russia 379,156 395,519 477,189 636,620
United States 534,628 763,232 1,001,103 1,764,394
Rest of world 336,952 467,954 591,577 743,371
World 1,770,956 2,609,770 3,230,068 4,490,722


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